Patience is not a virtue that Sixers point guard Jrue Holliday possesses. Actually, few 22-year-olds do. That's where parents, and in Holiday's case coach Doug Collins, come into play.
Holiday begrudgingly missed his third-straight game Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks, though he appears to be doing everything he can to convince Collins, the trainers, and even himself that his sprained left foot is healed enough for him to be out there battling with teammates. Coach and trainer Kevin Johnson have the final word, however, and that word was "no."
"Maybe tomorrow," Collins said of Holiday's possible return referring to the team's game in Houston on Wednesday. Collins said it with a bit of a sparkle in his eye and a knowing nod with his head. When Collins was a player, he had foot problems and his ability to play with pain was brought into question. So Collins pushed through the pain and played far below the level he expected of himself and ultimately wound up blowing out a knee as he was compensating his running style to ease the pain on his feet. That explains why he is in no hurry to rush his star point guard back to the floor.
"If his foot is sore he's not going to play, we're just not going to do that," Collins said. "He's too valuable and too important. The athlete, the player will always be the person who decides what they do. They know when they're ready to play. The most important thing is mentally he knows he's ready and can play and do what he has to do."
Holiday is trying to buy into it but you can see the frustration mounting. When he left the court following pregame warm-ups, he asked a reporter if he looked OK. He seemed to be hinting that he would go, but that it was out of his hands. As it should be.
"It's more sore planting, trying to make cuts [where it hurts]," Holiday said. "I didn't really try defense. I know dribbling and planting my foot and trying to go off of one leg and stuff like that, going in different directions [hurts]. I don't think the trainer will let me do anything until they feel comfortable. Obviously I could go out there and play and it would be hurting and it would never get better. But the trainers take their job very seriously. That's what they're here for."
The injury probably couldn't have come at a worse time as the team is at the beginning of a brutal 11-game stretch, 10 of which are on the road.
"It is tricky," Holiday said. "I feel like we could win a lot of games and I could help my team and obviously that's a lot of pressure to put on me to come back. At the same time I think I just want to be able to play basketball and walk and run and jump and all that stuff you have to do to be able to compete. I'm going to try and get back as quick as possible."
Center Kwame Brown got his second consecutive start Tuesday, keeping the hit-or-miss theme going for him. Brown made his ninth start against the Mavericks and has missed four games due to a left calf injury. The four games before his latest starting gig, he was a DNP, CD (did not play, coach's decision).
"It's tough to sit games and then come out and start," said Brown, who appears to have shed some weight. "You just have to be ready. Nothing prepares you for the games, really. I've done a lot of treadmill, a lot of weight lifting so I'm getting there. The more game experience I get, it will be better for me and for the team. I'm just happy to get the opportunity to play and I'm going to make the most of it. In practices I've started to let Thad [Young] sit out and I try to get more of those reps because he plays so much in the game. That's helped me out a lot."
"Kwame to me is going to be a situational starter for us for the rest of the year," Doug Collins said. "Any time we play against a big post we'll want him out there because that's why we have him. When teams maybe don't have that strong post guy we'll make that decision."